- The police sent 5,000 people on alert, deploying pepper spray to disperse the crowd before official festivities began.
- A man found with a "Hong Kong Independence" banner was among the first to be arrested.
- According to the new law, this offense carries up to life in prison.
Large numbers of Hong Kong residents were said to have celebrated the 23rd anniversary of the handover from the United Kingdom to China today, according to Beijing’s state media sources. Meanwhile, a large number of people gathered in various locations in Causeway Bay.
The police sent 5,000 people on alert, deploying pepper spray to disperse the crowd before official festivities began. Some people were arrested for violating Beijing’s new National Security Law for Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong police announced on Facebook that a suspicious man on Paterson Street in Causeway Bay was intercepted at about 1:30 PM, and a banner with the words “Hong Kong Independence” was found on his body.
The man became among the first to be arrested for violating the new and controversial law. According to the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law, committing the crime of splitting the country or subverting state power can be punishable by up to life in prison.
On the morning of the same day, members of the Social Welfare Company had found that the police officer’s flag bag had a purple flag during the march. The Yuen Long District Council Member Zhang Xiuxian posted a photo of the “Purple Flag” on his Facebook. The flag read:
“This is a warning issued by the police You are now displaying flags or banners/calling slogans and/or other acts, with the intention of splitting the country or subverting state power, which may constitute a crime under the Minato City National Security Act, and you may be arrested and prosecuted.”
“Hong Kong news” quoted police sources earlier that after the National Security Law came into effect, the police have set up a special department to handle national security crimes. If citizens hold the Hong Kong independence flag, the blue and white flag of Hong Kong during the rally, the police will record video and search evidence at the scene.
If feasible, a warning will be issued. The police can also make an immediate arrest. It is not necessary to give any warning before the arrest.
July 1st Parade Cancelled
Hong Kong has a large march every year on July 1st. The sponsoring group, the Hong Kong Democratic Front, earlier applied for a notice of non-objection. It was opposed by the police on the grounds of the epidemic prevention “restriction order.”
This is the first time the Hong Kong government has refused to approve the July 1st march since 2003. The promoters appealed to the Public Assembly and Procession Appeals Committee, which was also rejected.
Despite this, many Hong Kong people plan to take to the streets. Hu Zhiwei, a member of the Democratic Legislative Council, and Chen Haohuan, the deputy convener of the Democratic Front, together with a number of democratic district councilors, announced that they would continue to hold the July 1st march as individuals.
The parade assembles at 2 PM and departs at 3 PM. The parade goes from Causeway Bay, on Hong Kong Island, to Chater Road, Central. The theme of the parade is the same as that of the July 1st parade of the Democratic Front.
The promoter emphasized that it was a peaceful march, and he hoped that the police would exercise restrain. Although the National Security Law had come into effect, he said he would not tell the marchers to carry any flags or slogans.